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tv   [untitled]    May 24, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT

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cumulative comprehensive effort, rather than building by building. this issue is by no means settled and is still under the discussion. however, i just wanted to state for the record back if there is any change in how each building is brought forth under section 295, this would not affect the significant conclusions or intensity of the shadow and type. the eir analyzed a worst-case scenario. -- intensity of the shadow impact. there were a few public speakers. some of the comments they made did not address environmental issues but were rather expressions of support for or opposition to the project. public opinion regarding the merits of the project is not a topic of concern for certification, although you may, of course, wish to take such
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comments into account during your consideration of project entitlements. there were a few comments made about the eir that i want to address. one was a suggestion that it consider alternatives that would bring shadows down to heights that would reduce or eliminate -- bring buildings down to heights that would reduce or eliminate shadows on parks protected under section 295. the eir includes three alternatives that would reduce building heights such that shadow would be reduced. there is a new project alternative, a reduced project alternative, and a reduced shadow alternative, and those are discussed in a fair amount of detail. i also wanted to clarify one point about what it means to certify this document. that is not in any way approval of this project. ceqa does not require that a project be code compliance in order for the eir to be certified.
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this is an informational document about the impact of approval of the project, including any changes to codes that would be needed. the eir found significant on in court -- unavoidable and primal of hats in the areas of visual resources, cultural resources, transportation including traffic, transit, pedestrians, bicyclists, loading, noise, air quality, and shadow. the planning commission would need to adopt a statement of overriding considerations pursuant to the california environmental quality act, should the commission is ultimately to approve any aspect of the project. in conclusion, i would like to request that the commission adopt the motion before you that certifies that the contents of the environmental impact report are adequate and accurate and that the procedures through which the final eir was prepared comply with provisions of ceqa, the ceqa guidelines, and chapter 31 of the san francisco
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administrative code. in closing, i would like to add that the gene this point in the environmental review process is a great milestone. i want to thank our consultant team and other members of environmental planning staff, our environmental review officer, as well as other planning staff who contributed substantially to this eir. our partner agencies at tjpa and the former redevelopment agency. this concludes my presentation on the matter, and unless commissioners have questions, and suggest you consider certification. commissioner fong: thank you. commissioner antonini: thank you for your presentation.
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there were a couple of questions asked about revisions to the draft. it talks about some changes -- for example, the ratio of commercial to residential hotel changes from 3 to 1 to two to one, which would be less of an impact for the same and that, and they talk about the shorter building than was originally proposed and loading dock changes and a variety of other things. it would seem like that answers the question that was raised earlier, and then the other question was raised. i know you had mentioned talking about section 295 as we analyze each building for collectively the impact of all the buildings, and it would seem like all the alternatives are in there. there was one comment made about every possible project that could be analyzed has to be in complete conformity with 295,
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but i'm not sure that has to be part of an eir. >> the topic was addressed in the alternative discussion. under the existing zoning in the area, buildings built to the allowable building height with -- there would still be some shadowing of open spaces under section 295, so in considering alternatives, we did feel that an alternative that downzone from existing heights was not a feasible alternative for a variety of reasons, so the no project alternative actually would still have the potential to result in some shadowing and potentially significant shadow and packs. commissioner antonini: right, and you are changing the zoning, and that kind of answers the question. it is a different situation than is the case now, so that basically is what is happening in this situation. >> i'm sorry, could you clarify the question?
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commissioner antonini: i think you had just said that under existed -- existing zoning. what is before us is the change in zoning, that we create other changes within this district, so what you had spoken to earlier was a situation that existed prior to this change as opposed to a situation after the change. >> yes, we felt in terms of the idea of looking at an alternative that would completely avoid any chatelin -- shadowing, it was a different direction than the changes that were being considered. it would not obtain essentially any of the basic objectives of the project, so under ceqa, it was reasonable to reject that as an alternative. commissioner antonini: the analysis has to be of the project as presented, and that is what we have done. >> yes, and the alternative needs to look at reduction and significant impact.
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commissioner antonini: thank you. commissioner wu: i would like to ask a question to understand what this eir would cover compared to what might be covered in the future. in most interested in shadows, but what i think you were saying just now that has not been decided was whether the impact would be looked at cumulatively versus building by building, but if you could describe to me what analysis -- environmental analysis will be done if this eir is passed -- what analysis will be done on each of the individual buildings. >> i can tell you what is the untypically. this is a programmatic eir, so it is looking at what could potentially occur under the proposed zoning changes. it is not looking at individual building proposals. so what we would intend to do is in exploring each individual
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building, we will do specific shadow studies to identify the changes in shadow square-foot hours that would occur on each part, so that is how we would analyze shadow for any individual buildings. the expectation is that any individual building would result in less shadow than what was analyzed because the eir looking programmatic we did not look at the changes in -- or essentially the form, the shaping that would occur of any individual building, which would be expected, obviously, to reduce shuttle within the allowable building envelope. in terms of the process for section 295, for any further clarification about that, i will turn it over to kevin if you have further questions. >> if i may, just to be clear, this is a programmatic eir for
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the plan and zoning changes. this is a project level just for the one building. future buildings will have to come in for their own environmental review, which would likely be a community planned extension or perhaps a focused eir, but this has two functions today that you would decertifying. you decertifying plan eir, if i could call it that, and project eir -- you would be certifying. commissioner wu: just to be clear, the transit tower does not come back for a separate eir, but shuttle issues are dealt with at a separate commission? commissioner moore: could you please explain how the shadow issue is not being considered? because as you are looking at
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the eir for the plan for the project, you cannot talk about it without analyzing the impact of shadow as well as visual, cultural, etc., impact, which come from this tall building. could you please elaborate for me, under section 295 of the planning code, how many parks are within proposition k? is it 14? >> for the general discussion of section 295? i do not have that information. perhaps kevin can answer that question regarding overall the number of parts for which there is a shadow budget. >> thank you, commissioner. i believe there are 14 parks covered by what we refer to as a shadow budget.
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under section 295, that comes from the 1989 implementation memo, which was jointly about the planning commission and recreation and park commission for guidelines of implementation, but all properties under the jurisdiction of recreation and park are covered by section 295, and any development over 40 feet in height that would potentially impact a park receives detailed shadow analysis. it is not just limited to those parts named and identified in terms of what is identified. commissioner moore: the reason i bring up the number of 14 is that indeed, the eir does state that nine of these 14 parks are being affected, and that is a concern to me. any of the building will have the ability in front of the commission and in front of itself to ask for the maximum full benefits, which might be exchangeable and real as this, which comes on line as the iconic tower.
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i am concerned of tilting a shadow-impacting building towards one particular building one in the end, the whole grouping of all buildings together need to define this transit center. >> if i may, you have raised the point that has been discussed extensively the last couple of months. i was going to make comments about this during the next item, but the shadow task force, which had been meeting last two years, suggested that you and the planning commission and recreation and park commission review collectively after the plan is approved -- review collectively the shadows from all the projects. whether you decide to approve the shadows at that point is a different question, but they did suggest that you review the information from all the towers collectively. commissioner moore: we had five years to initiate that discussion in order not to be put in as awkward situation as we are in today.
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i myself feel we are in a very awkward situation. the concerns about shadow and of holding proposition k has been pretty much mainstream to my position on the commission and why i like the building, and a very much support the plan. and the work the department has done. we have talked about it for the last five or six years. i feel basically pushed against a wall that this issue has not been resolved prior to today. >> my only response to that was we could not resolve it because it requires a change in zoning and for the commissions to review the plan before it could be resolved. the information has been in the eir for quite some time. we have had it out there. the only difference we're talking about is how that information is reviewed by the two commissions. commissioner antonini: what is really before us at this particular time is certification.
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the eir, which is a complete, accurate and very analytical extension, and so really, that is the only issue we are considering in this particular motion right now, which i will move to certify the environmental impact report. >> second. commissioner wu: i do think that the eir -- it does an adequate job of addressing shadow and hats. it describes that there is an impact. it describes what the shuttle impact is. it does not diminish the importance of sunshine, but i also feel that voting to certify the eir is sort of an implicit statement about shadows. what i want to say is that i really think a shadow ordinance is important, and i do not want
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take for granted that through one action, you are sort of implying that all these other actions will be easy or that they will follow in that way. i just think that -- i want to make clear that despite -- or acknowledging that acknowledgingeir itself -- acknowledging that the eir itself is adequate, that these are issues to be considered on another calendar and with another commission. commissioner fong: thank you for pointing that out. i agree that while we might be taking some action today, it does not necessarily mean that everything going forward will have the same result. commissioner antonini: just in regards to what commissioner wu said, the certification of the eir in no way deals with the leader is coming on. this is the adequacy, accuracy, completeness coming from it. we can discuss today but will
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probably at a later time the details, which of course have to be in conjunction inrec/park and any kind of shadow allowances. this would be dealing with the document self, which i think is extremely well done, as is almost everything we have had before us that staff brings us. commissioner moore: i would like to ask the city attorney on an interpretation to a comment regarding the non-compliance of prop k makes the project noncompliant and non-approval. and then maybe i could clarify three points -- >> may be a clarify three points. i think that sarah address the issue of code compliance, and there is nothing in ceqa that requires the project being analyzed for the plan has to be
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code compliance -- code compliant. two issues are worth pointing out. the language of prop k for the consideration at the latest is triggered at the point where you are considering a building permit for a project. it can be considered before hand as long as you have environmental analysis, but the decision does not have to occur until you are considering a building that is over 40 feet in height of the building permit stage. i think one other point worth clarifying is that -- i believe some people misconstrue the criteria that were adopted, the implementation memo by the planning commission and
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recreation and park commission and, as something that is set in stone, and that somehow the prop k forces you -- you are bound by the subsequent implementation memo that was jointly adopted by the commissions, and that is not the case at all. prop k delegated the authority to be reckoned park commission and the planning commission to adopt and implementation program and adopt criteria, and the commission's jointly are allowed to adjust those criteria as they see fit. there have been city attorney public memos on this. those criteria can be adjusted up or down based on your policy decisions. you can adopt criteria -- i think kevin mentioned prop k applies to every party under
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recreation and park jurisdiction, so commissions could adopt criteria for parks where there currently are not any what we call budgets that have been adopted. those decisions are purely in the hands of the planning commission and recreation and park commission. commissioner moore: does that include those parts which have shadowed tolerance of zero? if that would be the case, why have it in the first place? >> the absolute limits that were adopted were things that were adopted by this implementation memo in 1989 by both commissions sitting together. at the time, it was determined what level of shadow at that time they felt was appropriate. i will read for you a paragraph which i think is relevant from a city attorney memo that was written in 1989.
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i believe it was shortly after the criteria, the implementation program was adopted. the original carefully considered cumulative limit and qualitative factors may have proven sufficient. however, if new information and experience proved that the criteria are unnecessarily restrictive for our and effective to protect parks and playgrounds from shadow and shading, then the commission's as representatives of the people have the implied power and indeed do need to change them. i think that is important that the opinion is not that once the criteria are adopted they can only be -- they must remain frozen or that they need to be more restricted. it does recognize that they can move in either direction based on the policy considerations of
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both commissions. >> i hear what you are saying, but i understand it to stand in stark contradiction to what the attorney said. commissioner antonini: i think i understand. i think the key word is discretion, that you spoke up. it does give to the commission some discretion. before us is the california environmental quality act. since this discretion exists, a project that commissions could find that the project in their discretion would be conforming and therefore, we are dealing now with ceqa. we are not dealing with 295, but we have the discretion over 295 that could make it conforming, so we are kind of getting confused at this point because what is really before us is just
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the ceqa issue. >> that is correct. as i indicated, prop k is triggered at the latest when there is a specific building project before the commission in excess of 40 feet that might shadow a parke. commissioner antonini: because uld be conforming because of our discretion, and therefore, it would fall under any ceqa law that might follow a project -- require project to be conforming to the law. >> that is correct. >> just to clarify, you do not have discretion over section 295. what you have discretion over is the technical memo that the commission adopted. to be clear, what john was saying, perhaps if i could clarify, clarify,prop k did not establish the budgets.
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the commissions established the budgets. because of that, it is your memo. you have the authority and the right to change that with a project comes forward. when the commission's get together and approve a small increase, what you are doing is changing that memo. >> we have done that on a number of occasions with a number of projects. >> there have been 13 times here not all of this project have been built. there have been 13 times in about three years. commissioner moore: in the majority of those projects, it was social considerations rather than private interests, which modified the budget. i have sat on a number of cases when i went against my own strong belief that prop k has a particular purpose, which does not allow the modifications we are considering today, but if there are overriding considerations, the ones i
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supported work of social consequence. >> commissioners, the motion on the floor is for certification of the final environmental impact report for the transit center district report and transit tower. on that motion -- commissioner antonini: aye. commissioner borden: aye. commissioner moore: no. commissioner wu: aye. commissioner fong: aye. >> thank you, commissioners. that motion passed four-one, with commissioner moore voting against. commissioners, you are now on item four, the transit center district plan adoption of action -- adoption action. for the record, i will state that adoption of the ceqa findings is 4a 4b is proposed
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plan amendments. 4d is request for review and comment. 4e is a learning t is administre amendments. 4g is the program implementation document. >> good morning again the, commissioners. since the department has been the primary sponsor of this plan, i thought it was appropriate to address you from this location rather than my usual chair. three weeks ago, we talked about a number of items. i will not reiterate all of those. i just want to reiterate what we are putting this before you today for adoption and white -- and also a bit more about the shadow issue. we initiated the plan in response to the transbay working
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group. the idea of the plan was to reflect the goal of the original 1985 plan to create a high density neighborhood as well as providing an creating land value that would be captured and distributed toward the actual construction of the terminal and tunnel. there have been a number of actions since then. we initially proposed and put out the plan for public distribution in november 2009. since that time, the eir, which you just certified, has been developed. the plan has four goals, as i said, to generate revenue for the terminal and the downtown transit tunnel to further implement the downtown plan, to provide capacity for additional jobs and office growth in the city, and to create a model for a sustainable high-density urban district. we think this plan does all of that. you re joshua review all the
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plan elements in detail. it is, in my estimation, one of the most comprehensive planning efforts we have ever done. it addresses changes in land use, density, height, and it creates 11 acres of new open space. it creates a new urban design and streetscape improvements. it designates additional historic resources and expense and historic district, and, i think most important, creates an important financing mechanism to make all this happened. i think it is a good reminder to us that the densities in this plan can allow the public amenities to be funded, and that does not happen very often. we cannot create densities, nor should we, in most of the city that pay for public improvements. in this case, we can, because of the densities proposed. i want to reiterate this is not about creating high-rises for the sake of high-rises. it is about creating the density we are talking about. there were additionally different heights proposed for many of these sites, including
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the transit towers. those have been adjusted as we developed the plan and look at the environmental impact of those plans. in several cases, we adjusted down with the original proposed heights. i believe this plan is important to adopt now. normally, and not standing in front of you urging the adoption. we leave that to other project sponsors, but in this case, the department is essentially the project sponsor. i believe it is important to realize the financing to create a new neighborhood here, which we have all been wanting for a very long time. it is important to address regional growth issues and for the city to accept its share of regional growth. a significant part of the city's own share of regional growth can happen within a very small area because of this plan. it is important to address office capacity. we believe that there is a market in the city in the coming years for both high rise buildings of this type approval and the larger low-rise buildings we're talking about in the other parts of the city. if the plan designates
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additional historic districts in landmark buildings, i think it creates an improved skyline by creating a more accentuated form to the skyline, and finally, it creates a much improved street environment. i will turn this presentation over now to maria from the chance they've -- transbay joint powers authority. joshua will present other portions of the project, and then i will come back. so thank you. >> good morning, members of the commission. i am executive director of the transbay joint powers authority. for many years, over a decade now, we have been a partner to the city and county of san francisco. the san francisco planning department, the redevelopment agency, and now the successor entity to the redevelopment agency, working very hard and diligently ontransbay transit c.